The earliest known observance within the Church was in the year AD 496, during the time of Pope Gelasius. In AD 542 the Emperor Justinian ordained that the Eastern Church celebrate the festival, which he called Hypapante, or "Meeting". The name was derived from the Gospel of Luke 2:22-40, where Simeon the priest and Anna the prophetess met the infant Jesus in the temple at the time of his consecration. Simeon's prophecy declared Jesus to be the Lord's salvation and "a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel". This passage continues to be the focus of the celebration. This holy procession was first made by the Virgin Mother, St. Joseph, holy Simeon & Anne, to be afterwards performed in all places and by every nation, with the whole world rejoicing, to honor this mystery.
The candle we bear in our hands represent the divine fire of love with which our hearts ought to be inflamed, and which we are to offer to God without any mixture of strange fire: the fire of lust, envy, ambition, etc. We also hold this candle in our hands to honor Christ, and to acknowledge him as the true light, whom it represents, for he came to dispel our spiritual darkness. Moreover, the candle expresses, that by faith, Jesus’ light shines in our souls as we prepare his way by good works, by which we are to be a light to all people.
Catholic Activity: Candlemas Day
Catholic Activity: Candlemas in the Home
It is a time to honor the Lord as the Light of the World and to remind us
that we too have that light within us.